Chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda had airily dismissed the exit polls for the assembly elections and expressed confidence that his party would form the government for the third time. But he spoke too soon.
As forecast by the pollsters and poll pundits, the BJP has routed the Congress, securing majority on its own. While he has admitted defeat and resigned, the two-time CM will have to do much more than that.
Besides being ready to spend the coming years in political wilderness, he may have to answer questions about some controversial land deals, including the one between Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s son-in-law Robert Vadra and DLF, in the state during his nine-and-a-half-year rule.
The BJP has repeatedly raised the issue of land licences before and during the poll campaign, hinting that if voted to power, it may look into the matter.
Also, Hooda’s party colleagues want him to accept the responsibility for the poll debacle in the state.
Power minister Capt Ajay Singh Yadav, who lost from Rewari after six straight wins, has openly blamed Hooda and his “discriminatory policies” for the Congress collapse.
“Hooda ran a one-man cabinet. I was sidelined. There was discrimination in recruitment for government jobs and fund allocation, which went to only two-three districts. Who has paid for his wrong policies?
The answer is, the Congress. There was no balance between the government and the party with (Phool Chand) Mullana as the state unit chief,” he told Hindustan Times. Another party leader accused Hooda of reducing the Congress to a baap-beta (father-son) party, like some regional outfits, in the state.
“The people had started calling the party Congress (Hooda). He must own responsibility for the poor showing,” he said.
The warning signals had been there for long time with senior leaders such as former union minister Kumari Selja, Yadav, Rao Inderjit Singh, Birender Singh and a few others taking on Hooda on the issue from time to time. Later, a few of them, who had been in the Congress for decades, even left the party.
The Congress high command had given virtually carte blanche to Hooda in running the government. During the selection of candidates for the assembly polls too, Hooda and Haryana Congress chief Ashok Tanwar had serious differences with the latter even threatening to quit his post at one stage over some candidates who were being backed the Rohtak strongman. Hooda had his way, though.
While Hooda’s supporters are already citing the party’s strike-rate in his stronghold – the Congress has won 10 of 15 seats in Rohtak, Sonepat and Jhajjar – in his support, the party high command, jolted by a string of setbacks, may not be able to ignore his detractors and brush aside criticism any longer.
Tanwar said the party accepted people’s verdict, and would introspect to assess where things went wrong and create a roadmap for its revival.